Click on the link for the Art History Programme for 2017
June 2017 Newsletter
Just a short entry as our main story was the highly enjoyable trip to Florence that took place in March. (See article below) Since January we have had talks by Elizabeth Le Marchant Brock on Anthony van Dyck and by Richard Eddlestone on Claude Lorrain. My thanks go to our speakers who always make the sessions so interesting and varied. Other talks have included: the female, Baroque artist Artemesia Gentileschi; a personal look at portrait painters of the Tudors and Stuarts; the French painter Poussin and the Spanish, Baroque painter Diego Velázquez.
Our attendance has remained high and our members appear to enjoy and learn from the many talks. Many of us even correctly answered an art question in the final of University Challenge!
Art History’s Trip to Florence March 2017 or How to Understand the Renaissance Movement in Art
Imagine walking in the steps of Michelangelo, of the Medici family, of Savonarola; that is what twelve of us from Art History did in the spring sunshine of March 2017. We spent three intense days in Florence supporting our work on the artists we had studied in the previous year. There was barely any time for shopping, for eating a “gelato” or sipping Italian wine surrounded by amicable company but, somehow, we managed to fit it in.
Our trip began in the early hours of Sunday 12th March. Who would have believed that there would have been so many people around Beeston at 4.00 in the morning? We were certainly not the only ones on the move. The journey to the airport, to Florence and then to our hotel went without a hitch for us. It was a little more fraught for our lecturer/guide/tour manager/ translator and all-round helper Peter Higginson. When he arrived at Heathrow it was to find that BA had sold on his seat but, with a few angry phone calls, he managed to fly out with us.
Our hotel looked disappointing from the outside but once inside we were very pleased with its standard of comfort. A real advantage was its distance to all the major sites in Florence as we were approximately 15 minutes’ walking from the Duomo, the great cathedral. Having settled in we then had the first of the two lectures from Peter where he looked at the beginnings of the Renaissance and how it would relate to what we would see on Monday. We were beginning to understand that Peter really “knew his stuff” and would be an extremely knowledgeable guide. The evening meal was most welcome as were the bottles of wine included with the food.
The next day, starting at 8.30, we trooped off to see our first artist, Giotto, passing on the way the Palazzo Strotzi, the Piazza della Repubblica, the Duomo , the Palazzo Vecchio (where Savonarola was burned at the stake) and eventually arriving at the magnificent Franciscan church of Santa Croce which was our destination. We spent several hours there looking at the amazing frescoes by Giotto and by Gaddi. We saw the tomb of Michelangelo, Donatello’s beautiful “Annunciation” and Brunelleschi’s mathematically constructed chapel. We were also astonished and intrigued by the terrible damage caused by the 1966 floods. Santa Croce, being close to the Arno river, was badly affected and some precious works of art have still not been fully restored as we saw with the Crucifix by Cimabue.
After an hour’s stop for lunch and a rendezvous at the Ponte Vecchio, where jewellers flashed their ostentatious goods, we headed for the church of Santa Maria del Carmine and its Brancacci Chapel. Here we spent our half-hour slot studying the frescoes of the next artist to develop naturalism in art, Masaccio. There was then time to stroll off on our own for some shopping or an ice cream or even to visit other gems which were not on our itinerary before the evening lecture and meal. Our pudding that night needs a special mention. It was called a “zucotto” and seemed to be a rich mixture of cream, ice cream and chocolate; a traditional Florentine dessert. Having consumed even more wine we were ready to crash out in our rooms as Tuesday was to be another 8.30 start; Peter was unwavering in his decision to head out early, a cruel but wise choice.
What was left for us to see on the Tuesday? We visited San Marco convent to look at the works of the gentle Dominican Fra Angelico. Apart from looking at some of his altarpieces we were fascinated by the monks’ cells which each contained a small fresco by Fra Angelico. A visit to the Medici Chapel, attached to Brunelleschi’s church of San Lorenzo, was a dramatic contrast to the charming paintings of Fra Angelico. Here were the monumental Medici tombs decorated with the powerful sculptures of Michelangelo. Before we ate a late, lazy lunch in the warm sunshine we visited the church of Santa Maria Novella. Apart from its important marble facade we saw Masaccio’s “Trinita” and Ghirlandaio’s fresco cycle of the life of John the Baptist in the contemporary costume of 1485. The day was completed with a visit to the Galleria dell’Accademia where we saw Michelangelo’s statues of David and his unfinished slaves. We were so lucky as, by 5.00, fewer people were in the gallery and we could spend extra time just looking at the brilliance of Michelangelo’s sculpture in relative peace. Although it is so well known and has been reproduced so many times seeing it in reality still takes away your breath.
Our last morning was spent at the Uffizi Gallery where Peter took us to see altar pieces by Duccio, by Giotto and other early Renaissance painters. We saw delicate paintings by Fra Filippo Lippi and the iconography of the Botticelli paintings was explained to us. The importance of Leonardo was explored as was the way that Michelangelo’s paintings began the Mannerist movement in late Renaissance work. As we raced from one room to another we caught glimpses of other fabulous works of art but time was against us. By 12.00 we were heading off to Pisa airport and our flight home.
Did we enjoy it? You bet we did. Was it a holiday? No, it was a “study tour”. Did we have fun? We laughed a lot especially when it was discovered that the distortion of the slides for our talks was caused by the beam of light from the projector filtering through Peter’s glass of water and nothing to do with poor equipment. There was also the young, Far Eastern tourist who decided to tag along with us at the Uffizi because he enjoyed Peter’s explanations of the paintings. We thought we had lost him several times but he soon popped up again – finally leaving us at the toilets! Did we make friends? We really enjoyed the company of each other. On our last night we all went out for a true Tuscan meal together at a local restaurant which was a tremendous sociable evening. Would we go back? You bet we would as we only covered a small proportion of what Florence has to offer.
All that’s left is for me to thank Travel Editions and Tracey Konidaris who helped to set it all up. It was a delight to work with her. To thank Peter Higginson for being the prefect guide for us with his knowledge of art, of Italian and of Florence. He became a good friend to us all. A thanks to my husband, Murray, who helped to keep me from panicking and finally, to everyone who came on the trip as it was a wonderful group to be with on our very first adventure abroad.
March 2017 Newsletter
Where has the time gone? It cannot be three months’ ago that I was writing the last report for the Newsletter can it?
Unfortunately, there is little to report. We celebrated Christmas in November as the correct meeting date in December fell on the Bank Holiday Tuesday. So, not only were we treated to two excellent talks but we had cakes and mince pies as treats in the break (thanks to Lucy Beardsley and Local not Global). The talks were very different and very stimulating. Margaret Christopoulos introduced us to a Greek artist, Yiannis Moralis whilst Janet Hoult took us through a variety of slides showing us mainly women reading which was the title of her talk. Our thanks go to both of them for a fascinating morning. In January we looked at some Medieval women artists which followed on from an earlier talk on Judith Leyster. We also revisited Artemisia Gentileschi who, I am pleased to say, has much greater recognition today than she did even thirty years ago. We are now looking forward to our February talks. Elizabeth le Marchant Brock is looking at Anthony van Dyck and we are also looking at the history of royal portraits up to and including Elizabeth 1.
During the months of October and November we had been offering some Fine Art cards to raise money for charity. These cards had been kindly donated by Janet Jackson. A total of twenty pounds was raised and this was given to a local charity, Nottingham Oasis Breast Cancer Trust. The Chairman of this trust, Jill Pearson, is a member of Beeston U3A. The cheque was handed to her at a meeting of Writing For Pleasure by Julia Powell who is a member of Art History and of the Writing Group.
By the time this Newsletter is circulated to Beeston U3A members, the first Art History trip abroad will have taken place. A small group of us are spending three days in Florence in the second week of March. We are going with Travel Editions, a company which specialises in cultural tours and who has arranged this tour around our needs. We shall be visiting all the special places associated with the Renaissance in Florence. It will be a hectic but a rewarding trip.
December 2016 Newsletter
In September, Jane Wild, back from her trip to America, gave us a fascinating talk on Rembrandt. She was able to show us how the artist’s style changed from being typically Baroque to being far more naturalistic, even impressionistic as Rembrandt aged (Thinks: did his sight deteriorate?). Julia Powell followed this in October with a delightful and detailed look at the portraitist, Frans Hals. Few of us knew anything about this artist apart from his most popular painting wrongly named as “The Laughing Cavalier”. Thanks must go to our speakers who spend hours researching these subjects for the good of the two groups.
Other artists covered in the months since the last newsletter were Vermeer and our first female artist, this time round, Judith Leyster; a contemporary of Frans Hals and fellow Haarlem resident. I know we were all fascinated and even angry that the paintings of a woman of her talent were all thought to have been executed by Frans Hals until she was “rediscovered” in the late nineteenth century. This led to looking at how art history has dealt with female painters and why they may not be as well-known as their male counterparts.
By the time this goes to press we shall also have had a talk on Yiannis Moralis a Greek painter and a favourite of Margaret Christopoulos who will introduce his art to us. Janet Hoult is also going to talk on the subject of Mainly Women Reading an enigmatic title but which sounds intriguing. This will all take place in November when we shall celebrate the end of another year as there will be no meeting in December.
It is time, therefore, to reflect on another positive year for the two Art History groups. They are certainly thriving and it is so positive to have more people volunteering to undertake talks on artists whom they admire. It is also an appropriate time for me to thank Elizabeth le Marchant Brock who is the perfect administrator for the two large groups. Elizabeth starts the process by alerting everyone to the next meeting; she turns up personally every month; she helps to put out the chairs – sometimes on her own; she takes the registers and handles the booking fees; she sits through the same talk twice and, when I am away, Elizabeth assists the speaker of the month by setting up the equipment. On top of those tasks she also volunteers to give at least two talks every year. Where would the group be without her? Thank you, Elizabeth.
September 2016 Newsletter
Back in June thirty members of the Art History Group went to Compton Verney for the day. I can already hear the questions: Compton Verney, where’s that and why would you go there? Many years ago one of our members had told me about Compton Verney and said that it was worth visiting but I had placed the idea on a back-burner. This June I was looking for a short trip as there was the possibility that we would have to cancel the talk for the month. As Compton Verney is east of Stratford-upon-Avon I thought it would be a reasonable distance to travel. Also, it was advertising a special and topical exhibition of Shakespeare in art so a trip was quickly organised.
What a wonderful place for art lovers. This small, stately home is a whole art museum in the middle of a Capability Brown landscape. There are rooms full of wonderful collections of art: medieval artefacts, Baroque oil paintings, Chinese Jade, English folk work and a room dedicated to the designer Enid Marx. Of course there was also the special Shakespeare exhibition and we were all staggered by the “Ophelia” installation where the artists had projected the floating body of a woman in a tank – complete with fish and flowers. Compton Verney also has an excellent restaurant, a well-priced café and a delightful shop selling an excellent array of art-related goodies. The guides and staff on site were also so friendly and knowledgeable. Unfortunately, the day remained overcast but it was warm enough for many of our party to have a lunch out in the superb grounds. For the first time on an Art History trip people were delayed returning to the coach but as one person was the organiser all was forgiven. We shall definitely make a return journey someday.
Since the last contribution to the Newsletter we have had riveting talks on Caravaggio and Rubens by Elizabeth Le Marchant Brock for which, many thanks. Elizabeth also kindly stepped in to a fill a gap in our programme. We have also had talks on Caravaggio, El Greco, Tintoretto and Paulo Veronese. I mentioned earlier that we almost had to cancel our June meeting because of unexpected circumstances; however, a new member of the group, Olena Heywood kindly stepped in and ran two excellent sessions on Hogarth’s “Marriage à la Mode” for which I was extremely grateful.
Art History still goes from strength to strength. The morning session is now completely full and we are no longer taking new members. It is still possible to join us in the afternoon but we shall soon be closing membership to that one too. It is thanks to the standard of the talks from our members (remember, none of us are professional art historians or speakers) that we continue to attract people to the group. A special “thank you” to everyone who makes this group successful.
This Group is full.There is a waiting list if you would like to join it.
Click on the following links for information sheets handed out at meetings:
Who would know that Birmingham is a great place for art? Our Christmas trip saw us on our third visit to Birmingham. This time, we visited the Jewellery Museum in the jewellery quarter of the city; this was to complement the talk we had had last Christmas by Elizabeth Le Marchant Brock on Lalique’s jewellery.
The museum is a time capsule. When the owners walked out of their jewellery factory in the 80’s they left everything as it had been on that day. As little had changed since the firm began in the Victorian era it really was a window into the past. The welcome from the staff was a very warm one which was quite a contrast to the actual temperature of the building itself. Our two guides were delightful; full of information and amusing stories. We especially enjoyed the ways in which the owners (Smith and Pepper) had checked that no employee could walk out with any gold dust on them whatsoever; banning men’s turn-up trousers and Brylcreem gel for the hair. After our comprehensive tour we were free to have lunch, to wander around the many jewellery shops or, indeed, to buy some jewellery for Christmas.
There are no trips planned for 2016 at the moment. However, in conjunction with the firm Travel Editions, we have planned a trip to Florence in March 2017. I have been lucky enough to select the places I would like to visit – including a trip to the Uffizi Gallery – and a programme has been put together for us. This is specifically for Beeston U3A. There has already been interest shown by Art History members and the 25 places are filling up rapidly.
Since the last newsletter we have had talks on Leonardo da Vinci, Michelangelo and Raphael; the three giants of the Renaissance. Elizabeth also expertly took us through the work of Titian. After Christmas we were looking at the paintings of Pieter Bruegel the Elder. We are nearly back at the beginning! We started in Oban House in August 2011 with the artist Holbein and 18 or so members. That membership has now risen to 100+ and still growing. Perhaps some people will now feel that, having been through the artists once already, it is time to leave the group; although we have learned how to improve the content and to add extra artists along the way which will, hopefully, still keep people wanting to attend. There is no truth in the rumour that there will be a third Art History group unless someone else wants to start their own, separate Art History and call it History of Art – that would be confusing.
December 2015 Newsletter
Our Autumn art history talks have mainly continued with our theme of the Renaissance. We have had talks on the Florentine architect Brunelleschi. It is thanks to him that we now have the iconic picture of Florence with its recognisable dome. We also looked at the sculptor Donatello who was a friend of Brunelleschi. Our last talk was on the genius of Michelangelo: in particular, his sculptures and his paintings. In September, however, we had a break from the classical artists of the Renaissance as Elizabeth Le Marchant Brock took us through the theme of animals in art. This had been religiously researched and guided us through all the periods of art beginning with the first rendition of animals by our Neolithic ancestors. It was a delightful talk for which we were very grateful to Elizabeth. We were also amazed that she managed to show other animals apart from her favourite cats!
We do not have a meeting in December this year. In previous years we have had fuddles, Christmas art quizzes, special talks and trips. This year we have opted for a trip to complement last year’s Christmas talk on the jeweller Lalique as we are visiting the Jewellery Quarter in Birmingham. This will include a guided tour of the museum where we will watch jewellery being made. It will also give us a chance to buy ourselves a treat for Christmas – at least, look longingly at what we hope Father Christmas could bring.
Once again, I would like to use this opportunity to thank the members who have given talks and those members who have helped with setting up the room every month. Your efforts are invaluable.
September 2015 Newsletter
Since the last contribution to the newsletter we have experienced four interesting talks.
The first of these was about Celtic Art given by Patricia Hamling. It was riveting and our thanks go to Patricia for ensuring that she could keep going for two whole sessions. In order to make the Art History programme interesting and varied I do, on occasions, ask members to say what is missing from our list of talks. This often gives members the opportunity to mention an artist or a period in which they are particularly interested. What happens next? Well, as Patricia found I then “encourage” them to tackle the subject themselves. Despite Patricia’s own concerns she approached it brilliantly and we were all fascinated with the range of wonderful art to be found in this period.
Thanks must also go to Elizabeth le Marchant Brock who skilfully took us through the life and works of Albrecht Durer. We all decided that he had been a lovely-looking young man but somewhat arrogant! I took the other two talks on Lucas Cranach the Elder and a separate session on Leonardo da Vinci. A contemporary of Durer, Cranach was probably the more popular artist of the time; especially with his titillating figures of nude women. It is fascinating how history changes perceptions and how artists go in and out of fashion. The talk on Leonardo covered his paintings only. He was such a talented and skilled man that it was only possible to study one aspect of his work.
A final thanks must go to the members; despite it being the “holidays” our numbers stayed high throughout May, June and July.
June 2015 Newsletter
Since our last newsletter we have continued with our chronological look at Art History – now having reached the 15th – 16th centuries. This time round we have discovered that the groups like to look in depth at one or two artists rather than trying to attempt a general overview (see comment below regarding dates).
In February, Martin Edwards from West Bridgford U3A gave us a talk on three major paintings by Sandro Botticelli. His talk was inspiring and gave us a real in-depth understanding of the painter and his times. Martin has agreed to return to give us another talk on his love of the Art Deco but, with our steady and thorough pace, we will not reach that period in art until 2018! In March there was a talk on Fra Filippo Lippi and his son (yes, son) Filippino Lippi. We discovered that Fra Filippo’s life was as dramatic as his paintings were gentle; definitely one of art’s “bad boys”. We also looked at Savonarola and the effect he had on Florentine art. In April we returned to the Low Countries where Richard Eddlestone looked at Roger (or Rogier) van der Weydon and I attempted to explain the surrealistic paintings of Hieronymus Bosch; despite the contrast in style and subject matter they were both heavily influenced by symbols from the Bible. Our next talk in May will be a return to an earlier style as Patricia Hamling will be looking at examples of Celtic Art.
On Wednesday 20th May 27 of us boarded a coach to visit the Barber Institute of Fine Arts at Birmingham University. I do not believe that anyone on the trip had ever visited this gallery before – even those who had lived nearby for a while did not know of its existence. I had seen it on “Flog It” and on “Bargain Hunt” where the two presenters admired the gallery as a “little gem”. They were not wrong as it was a delight. We arrived at 11.00 where we were free to have coffee, buy lunch or wander the gallery on our own. At 2:00 we were given an escorted tour where our guides picked out the most interesting paintings of the collection. We all decided that to have such an enthusiastic and detailed insight was well worth the £4.00 we each paid and to have been able to wander by ourselves first also worked well. Our coach and driver, Howard, were waiting for us at 3.15 and we were home before 5.00; a little warmer on our return journey as the sun shone and the heater worked! It was a lovely day out and a contrast to some of our more hectic trips. Where next I wonder?
March 2015 Newsletter
Our trip to see the Rembrandt exhibition began very well. The new coach company ensured that the coach was waiting for us before 8.00 and our driver, Adam, was delightful. We were dropped off, after negotiating London’s excessive traffic, at close walking distance from the Sainsbury Gallery in time to have lunch before our 1.30 entrance slot. The exhibition itself was wonderful. It was such a privilege to see all those iconic paintings, prints and sketches together in the same place; certainly, something we are unlikely to see again in our lifetime. Even the hordes of visitors did not prevent us all from gazing in delight at the skill of Rembrandt.
However, what is it with coach trips to London? We all dutifully arrived at our coach at 4.15 and Adam set off for Nottingham. Two hours later we were still stuck in London thanks to traffic jams and road closure. Once we reached the M1 it was hardly much better and, arriving north of Leicester, we found that the motorway had been completely closed both ways because of an horrific accident. As we were guided off the M1 towards Loughborough Adam realised that he was running out of driving hours. That meant a phone call to his boss, a mystery-ride around the small villages south of Nottingham, flashing lights in the middle of Bunny, an exchange of drivers and the boss man taking us back to Beeston by 9.15! We had been five hours in the coach with one short comfort stop. I really wonder if any trip to London by coach is worth the hassle.
For those of us who were willing and able to attend a meeting two days before Christmas a real treat was lined up for History of Art members. (see picture left) Elizabeth le Marchant Brock introduced us to The Jewellery of Lalique. Many of us are familiar with his glassware but few of us knew of his skill with jewellery. The talk was fascinating and illustrated by many beautiful pieces of his art; many of which have never been worn but bought, immediately, to go on display in galleries. Many of us agreed that some of the pieces would be difficult to wear but that would not stop us from trying. After Elizabeth’s talk (thank you, Elizabeth) we all enjoyed some excellent refreshments brought in by several members.
In January we had two stimulating talks on three painters from the medieval Netherlands. Richard Eddleston looked at the works of Jan Van Eyck including the well-recognised Arnolfini Marriage and Julia Powell introduced us to Hans Memling and Derek Bouts. Our thanks go to Richard and Julia for taking us through the art of those particular painters and for helping us appreciate the symbolism to be found in Medieval Christian art.
In February we are looking forward to a guest speaker from the Art Appreciation group of West Bridgford U3A. Martin Edwards has a particular interest in Sandro Botticelli and will help us to understand and appreciate this mystical, Italian artist.
December 2014 Newsletter
Since August we have had an excellent talk on English Medieval wall paintings given by Jean Reid. This was followed by some talks on several very early Renaissance painters, Giotto, Masaccio and Fra Angelico. Elizabeth Le Marchant Brock spoke admirably at Piero della Francesca and we were also treated to ten wonderful frescoes in Siena Cathedral by Pinturicchio led by June Gibson. Finally, we had a talk on the perspective paintings of Paolo Uccello. It amazes and delights me to see how our steady band of speakers from the group is growing. It is also a great treat for people to be tackling artists and subjects which are relatively unknown. So many of us now have Blythe Church and Siena on our “places to visit” list thanks to Jean and June.
By the time this newsletter appears we will also have been to London to visit the exhibition: Rembrandt, his late works. Some members of the group have been already to see it and have returned with glowing reports on the 91 pictures at the Sainsbury wing of the National Gallery. For our second visit to London we are trying a new coach company; hopefully, this time, they will not drop us off as far as our first driver did leaving us to tramp through London.
For our Christmas session which is on Tuesday 23rd December we are having one talk only at 11.00. This will be a treat as we shall be looking at the jewellery of Lalique – a particular favourite of Elizabeth le Marchant Brock. We will also have a little Christmas celebration after the talk.
A new programme is being drawn up, as I write this, which will take us up to January 2016. There are so many artists we wish to investigate and so many personal interests that this course could run for years. My thanks, again, go to everyone who makes this group such a success.
Exhibitions on Screen Series
Dear Art History Members
Some of you may already be aware of art exhibition films which go out under the name of Exhibitions on Screen Series and which are produced by Seventh Art Productions in London.
EOSS have just released information on their next series of films and as art lovers we thought you might be interested.
The Hermitage Revealed – this is on at the Broadway Cinema on Tuesday 9th September at 6.30 – the cost of the tickets is normally £10-12. It is also on at the Quad Derby.
Matisse – from Tate to MoMA – 4th November 2014.
Rembrandt: the late works – 2nd December 2014.
Girl with Pearl Earring and other Treasurers from the Mauritshuis Museum, Netherlands – 13th January 2015.
Vincent van Gogh: a new way of seeing – 14th April, 2015.
The Impressionist – 26th May 2015.
I definitely know that all these will be shown at the Quad Derby because they are already in their on screen diary and I’m sure that they will also be shown at the Broadway. Hope you find this information useful.
Why I Love Art History
By Helen Stewart – Group Leader, Art History
Beeston U3A’s Art History Group is reaching a significant milestone; we are about to sign up our 100th member and no, there will not be flowers and free membership for the year! August 2013 we began a second group because we did not wish to risk the health and safety of our members as our room would only take sixty people at any one time. That still means our total number for two groups must not exceed 120 so we have just a few spaces available before we are forced to refuse people a place.
Why is it such a success? Obviously, the people of Beeston and its surrounds are keen on culture and the idea of carrying on learning has a strong appeal. We also have seen the skills of our members increase so that we now have a wonderful group of people who are prepared to give PowerPoint presentations on an artist, or a movement or an aspect of art which they personally enjoy. They have developed their research skills, their communication skills and, with the help of other members, their IT skills. They even give up a whole day in order to cover our two Art History Groups which take place on the fourth Tuesday of the month. Our reputation has grown in and around the area so that individuals have been invited to give their talks at other U3As.
We have also tried to complement the talks with outings to see exhibitions and art galleries. We have been to Cambridge to see Vermeer and to Waddesdon to see the Rothschild collection. Whilst we looked at the Pre-Raphaelites we went to Wightwick Manor and Birmingham Art Gallery. We have also been to 78 Derngate, Northampton for a Christmas treat and to the Hepworth Gallery in Wakefield and to the Yorkshire Sculpture Park in late Spring. We are about to embark on our second trip to the National Gallery; previously we saw an exhibition on Turner but this time it is to see the later paintings of Rembrandt.
Personally, I love the research that goes into the talks. Consequently, not only has it given me an excuse to buy some glorious art books (my collection has now reached 100) but holidays can be based around them too. In June I went with my husband to a cultural visit based in Madrid run by the company Travel Editions who specialise in art trips. It celebrated the life and paintings of El Greco so, not only did we visit the Prado, the Reina Sophia Gallery of Modern Art where we saw Picasso’s Guernica, the Thyssen-Bornemisza Gallery, the Lazaro Galdiano Museum (an absolute gem which contained some priceless paintings by Goya) but we also spent a day in Toledo looking at works by El Greco in the churches for which they were painted. My husband and I took hundreds of photographs and many of them will turn up in talks when I repeat the lives and works of three great Spanish artists: El Greco, Velazquez and Goya. Even whilst visiting France I am on the lookout for great Medieval carvings for talks on Romanesque and Gothic architecture. This year we also visited Albi, the birthplace of Toulouse-Lautrec, which contains a magnificent museum of his paintings and prints therefore, as we have not looked at his work, it will be, no doubt, on a future programme.
A final thought – I wonder if I could have my holidays sponsored by the U3A as fact finding missions. Somehow, I do not think I could get away with that.
September 2014 Newsletter
After three years the time has arrived when we begin again at the beginning of Art History! Not quite the beginning though as, when we started, we only looked closely at artists who were painting in the sixteenth century. We have also left out many favourite artists as well; so, now is the time to go back and include them all. This Interest Group could run and run indefinitely.
June’s meeting saw Karin Williams give a well-received talk on both Ice Age Art and the art of the Egyptians. I know that Karin spent many hours both researching and producing her PowerPoint presentation. Karin has also been invited by the Art History Group at West Bridgford U3A to give the same talk to them – they are in for a treat. Beeston U3A is gaining quite a reputation for its skills! Our thanks go to Karin.
In July we looked at the art of Ancient Greece and of Rome. I believe that most of us were astonished by the sheer skilfulness of these ancient artists. As it was stressed, most of the skills practised by the Renaissance artists had already been developed by the ancient Greeks. In August Jean Reid will take us through some of the many Medieval wall paintings to be found in this country whilst I will be looking at the painter, Giotto.
We are now planning our next outing. This will be our seventh. This time we will be visiting the National Gallery to see the exhibition on Rembrandt’s last works. This trip does affect our members as it will mean no meeting in November as that is the day of the outing to London.
June 2014 Newsletter
On Friday 2nd May, twenty-eight of us set off for a trip to Yorkshire where we spent the morning in the Hepworth Gallery, Wakefield (picture, left) and the afternoon at the Yorkshire Sculpture Park. I think I can honestly speak for everyone in saying what a splendid day we all had. The Hepworth Museum was fascinating and our enjoyment was increased by our two guides who were passionate about the building itself and the exhibits within it. We were all blown over by the Henry Moore sculptures – especially when we were given gloves to have a good “feel”. Our admiration for the work of Barbara Hepworth was evident as some of it certainly had the “wow” factor.
Our visit to the Yorkshire Sculpture Park (picture right) in the afternoon was less structured and people were free to roam at will. Some spent their time looking at the fascinating, wooden installations of Ursula von Rydingsvard, an American artist, whilst others went for walks around the park. The weather was glorious and the parkland looked like a painting itself – it was beautiful enough to take one’s breath away. Even the traffic on the M1 was kind to us and we returned to Beeston almost as planned.
Since the last newsletter we have had, again, some excellent talks. Elizabeth Le Marchant Brock gave us a tour-de-force with a talk on Russian ballet; Jenny Seth led us in a very personal appreciation of David Hockney; we have also had talks on Juan Miro, Artemesia Gentileschi and L. S. Lowry. My thanks go to all of those people who have given up their time to produce such excellent presentations. When we started the group our intention was to aim to cover Holbein to Hockney; well we have achieved that aim. However, we have realised how many more artists we wish to include so, after May’s dip into some American artists, we start again but this time from the early beginnings of art with Karin William’s one-woman show on Ice Age and Egyptian art. Who knows, our next cycle may take four years and not three!
March 2014 Newsletter
Since the last entry in the newsletter – gosh, doesn’t time fly? – we have had two excellent sessions. Our November meeting was taken by Jane Wild and Avrille Belcher who took us through two fascinating modern artists: Pablo Picasso and the strange, Salvador Dali. In January we were treated to talks on three women artists: Berthe Morisot, Frida Kahlo and Dame Laura Knight, our home-grown Long Eaton artist, given by Richard Eddlestone and Julia Powell. These presentations are becoming better and better with video clips interspersed with stills; I think we can say that we are quite technically minded – or, at least, some are! However, for any future presentations, Jane Wild has volunteered her services to help anyone to produce a high-standard of PowerPoint presentation – thank you Jane.
Of course, there is the Christmas trip to mention in this edition. We had a wonderful day out in Northampton with the main aim of seeing the Charles Rennie Mackintosh designed house – 78, Derngate, (front door in the picture on the right). What a gem of a museum it is and well worth the short trip down the M1 to reach it. As the tour of the house was split into two groups of 20 we also had time to visit the centre of Northampton. Many of us found ourselves in the fascinating shoe museum and then, in the same building, we came face-to-face with the reconstructed head of Richard III on loan from Leicester. Congratulations, too, to the winners of the Art History quiz which was held on the coach – Patricia, you know your art! We are now looking forward to our next trip to the Hepworth Museum, Wakefield and to the Yorkshire Sculpture Park. We are also pleased to say that the second morning group is now thriving. However, there is no truth in the rumour that we are thinking of starting a third group!
Greetings to all of you in the Art History Interest Groups,
I would like to take this opportunity to wish you and your families a very happy and healthy 2014.
Please find below an updated version of our programme of talks for 2014 – 2015. I have had to make several changes and all for very good reasons. Firstly, more and more people are willing to take on talks – so the names of speakers have had to be changed. Other members of the group have volunteered to give talks on individual artists who may be new to us but are favourites of theirs – so they have been added. Also, individual talks are becoming more detailed so I have found that I have had to change my plans regarding how many artists can be looked at in one session. You will see that I have had to put in a “catch-up” session in March to cover the artists we have not had time to tackle. Anyway, I hope you find it all an interesting programme and I will have some hard copies printed for people at the next meeting.
Our Christmas trip to Northampton to visit 78, Derngate was very successful. Those of you who couldn’t manage to go should write it down on your “to-visit” list. The museum and the house itself really has the “wow” factor in miniature – do not expect an enormous building as it is all very compact. Thank you to all of you who made it such a good trip out. At the moment I am planning a trip to the Yorkshire Sculpture Park and to the Hepworth Gallery in Wakefield for later in the year. I hope to have more news about that at our next meetings. It has also been pointed out to me that there is a special Rembrandt exhibition coming to the National Gallery, London at the end of the year and would I be putting on a trip. The last time we went to London I struggled to fill a small coach so I am reluctant to do that again but if enough people wish to go then I will arrange something. A special group talk for an extra £3.00 sounds like good value for money.
I realise that I am a little late with the following information but there have been a couple of really good programmes on television about art. The first started last night: Treasures of Ancient Egypt BBC4 t 9.00 which will be on I-player. I also see that they are bringing out 6 DVDs for £12.99 through the Radio Times. We do have a talk on Egyptian Art coming up in the year given by Karin so you may wish to whet your whistle in advance of her talk which I know she has already been researching. The other programme which I found riveting was on Sunday and it was called: Apples, Pears and Paint: How to make a Still Life Painting. Again, BBC4 and again, it should be on I-player. This should also be repeated at some point. It was excellent looking at the history of still life painting – it also made me realise that we must visit the Ashmoleon Museum, Oxford sometime. However, it also made me aware as to how pompous some art historians can be so : a) I hope none of us come over that way at U3A and b) sorry to offend those of you who like Andrew Graham-Dixon but he did talk in a pretentious manner!
That is it from me – sorry that I have rattled on a bit but it’s a long time since we saw everybody. Don’t forget that the next meeting is on Tuesday 28th January and talks will be given by Richard Eddlestone and Julia Powell – thanks to them I am having another monthly rest! My thanks also go to Avrille Belcher and Jane Wild for their excellent talks in November. As usual, any apologies to Elizabeth or myself please.
Click on the link to download the Art History Programme 2013 – 2015 Revised
December 2013 Newsletter
Friday 30th August saw a small coach of 30 Art History members setting out for Houghton Hall, Norfolk to see a once-in-a lifetime exhibition. Houghton Hall, the home of the Walpole family and built in the 1720s by Robert Walpole, sold its most important art work in the eighteenth century to Catherine the Great of Russia. After much negotiation, the family had the loan of all its original paintings from Russia and, for six or so months, they were on view to the general public back on the walls which were built to accommodate them.
Unfortunately, the journey to the house, which is situated near King’s Lynn, took us nearly four hours with half an hour stuck in the road works at Grantham. Consequently, our time at the house itself was limited but what a house! It was a gem and the paintings turned out to be an extra bonus. The weather was lovely and, had we not been stuck in traffic, we would have had more time in which to enjoy Houghton Hall’s beautiful grounds. Our Christmas trip should be a little nearer to home as we are visiting the Charles Rennie Mackintosh house (78, Derngate) at Northampton. Hopefully, it does not take us four hours to arrive there.
Since the last newsletter we have started a second group as there was too much demand on the 60 places available. The morning group started successfully on August 27th with talks on Edward Burne-Jones by Elizabeth Le Marchant Brock and Charles Rennie Mackintosh by Helen Stewart. Thanks must go to Elizabeth and to the other volunteers, who have so willingly agreed to repeat their talks twice in one day. We were hoping that the morning group would break even but we should not have worried as our numbers easily cover the cost of the room for two sessions. Since August we have also had talks on “the good egg” William Morris and on several war artists (Nevinson, the Nash brothers and Stanley Spencer) both given by Helen Stewart. November’s meeting should cover Picasso (talk by Jane Wild) and Salvador Dali (talk by Avrille Belcher) with Miro as an extra if we have time.
NB There will be no meeting in the month of December.
September 2013 Newsletter
Since the last newsletter we have had an excellent talk on the Glasgow Boys – not forgetting the Glasgow Girls – by Elizabeth le Marchant Brock. Patricia Hamling bravely tackled the controversial Francis Bacon with great success: I may not like him but I now understand him. Another “modern” artist covered was Lucian Freud unlike many of his models – excuse the pun. We have also looked at two architects: the Spaniard Gaudi and our own Nottingham architect Watson Fothergill.
To accompany our work on Watson Fothergill, Kurt Hatton from the Nottingham Civic Society, took us on an early evening stroll around the centre of Nottingham city to look at the buildings designed by Watson Fothergill or, as he was christened, Fothergill Watson. Despite it being a miserable evening (persistent drizzle throughout) we had a most enlightening walk and by the end of the hour and a half we were all capable of spotting an iconic Fothergill building. Kurt’s talk was fascinating and he pointed out buildings we had never noticed before. However, the most interesting of them all had to be Watson Fothergill’s former office on George Street which was used to show future customers his range of designs.
By the time the newsletter comes out we will have reached an important moment in the development of this interest group as we are starting group number two – known as the “morning group”. This should enable those on the waiting list and new Beeston U3A members to join as well as allowing those who struggle to attend in the afternoon to swap to the morning. We shall also have visited Houghton Hall in Norfolk for an exhibition of paintings sold to Catherine the Great of Russia and now returned, on loan, to their original places in the house.
NB The latest version of the Art History Events Programme can be found by clicking here.
Our Art History trip to Wightwick Manor and Birmingham City Art Gallery on Friday 26th April went off without a hitch. Actually, I am telling a lie. Who could have predicted that a car would be stranded on the Birmingham to Wolverhampton road and that we would, therefore, be over half an hour late? Consequently, what should have been a gentle meander around Wightwick Manor (a real gem in the National Trust’s crown) turned into a mad gallop. What a place though – with Pre-Raphaelite paintings and paintings of Pre-Raphaelites everywhere. Oh look, there’s a Rossetti tucked in behind that door! What a pity we didn’t have more time just to take in the grounds as, for once, the sun shone and Spring had arrived.
Our stop at Birmingham Art Gallery was perfect – our coach driver managed to drop us off and pick us up right outside the rear entrance. Again, the number of Pre-Raphaelite paintings on show was quite amazing but so were some of the other exhibits including the Staffordshire Hoard which many of us managed to see. We arrived back in Beeston at 5:00 having had a really inspiring and educational day. Special thanks must go to our accommodating and calm coach driver – especially as it was his first professional job having only just left the Irish Guards.
Since the last newsletter our talks have covered Klimt and Munch – a big “thank you” to Elizabeth Le Marchant Brock and Jane Wild respectively for taking us through the work and lives of those two artists. We also had a presentation on the founding members of the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood.
The group has continued to increase in size and the waiting list has become longer and longer. Consequently, it has been decided to start a second History of Art Group. It will be launched on August 27th at 10.30 – 12.30 in the Guild Room and the first meeting will be free. The talks for the morning and afternoon will be the same (to cut down on work) and we shall look at English “colony” artists and Elizabeth le Marchant Brock has kindly agreed to do a Pre-Raphaelite follow-up by looking at the works of Burne-Jones. All are welcome.
March 2013 Newsletter
On a snowy, icy and miserable Tuesday afternoon forty or so members of the Art History Group turned out to listen to three talks on the Post-Impressionists Van Gogh, Gauguin and Cezanne. Only the night before we had talked about cancelling the event thinking that we wouldn’t have an audience and then, when we decided to go ahead, only ten or so chairs were placed out in the room. Imagine our astonishment and pleasure when we saw so many people turn up – we were even running out of seats. Everyone certainly thought it was worth battling the conditions with three talks on three fascinating artists – two, at least, were very “bad boys”. My thanks to Elizabeth Le Marchant Brock and to Richard Eddlestone for their power point presentations on those artists.
In December we broke with our normal routine and had a “Fuddle”. This consisted of an art quiz based around the theme of Christmas and winter. It was followed by a “Show and Tell” session where individuals brought along favourite artists or paintings to discuss in small groups. All accompanied by a finger buffet ably organised by Jane Wild and Elizabeth Le Marchant Brock. The whole afternoon was a great success and we are now planning to do another such event for Christmas 2013.
At the moment a trip is in being planned to visit Wightwick Manor and Birmingham Art Gallery as part of our work on the Pre-Raphaelites in April. The places on the coach were sold out in a week. A report on the trip will be in the next edition of the newsletter.
In the last newsletter we had to announce, regrettably, that we were now full as a group and for health and safety reasons we cannot take any more new members. Please, if you want to join us, do not turn up at a meeting but contact myself first so that your name can be placed on a waiting list. Likewise, if you have had to leave the group for any reason, then let me know as soon as possible so that others may join.
Finally, we must give our thanks to Christine Hibbert for the excellent work she has done for the group, since it started, as Treasurer. Unfortunately, Christine has had a bout of poor health and finds that she cannot continue at present. Get well soon, Christine. Elizabeth Le Marchant Brock has kindly volunteered to add the role of Treasurer to her role of Group Secretary: thank you Elizabeth.
December 2012 Newsletter
Didn’t we have a wonderful time the day we went to Waddesdon? On Friday 7th September forty members of Beeston U3A along with four guests from West Bridgford’s equivalent went for a day out to Waddesdon Manor, Berkshire. Looking back on it, the day was probably the best day of the summer as the weather was absolutely perfect. Nothing seemed to go wrong. We left on time; we arrived at Waddesdon after a stress free journey on time; we went around the house on time; and we eventually left on time to return to Beeston by 7:00. From the reaction of everyone who went the outing was a great success with people wanting to return to see more – especially the wonderful grounds which, admittedly, there was not enough time to do them justice.
Since the last newsletter the group has had talks on: Boucher (Karin Williams), Friedrich (Richard Eddleston), Blake (Jane Wild), Monet and Degas (both by Elizabeth Le Marchant Brock), Goya, David and Manet. It has been really wonderful for so many people to have the nerve to stand up and give such great talks and, in many cases, to learn new IT skills. The talk on Blake even had the members joining in a spontaneous rendition of Jerusalem! By the time the next newsletter goes out we should have also covered Gothic architecture and have had a Christmas social with art quiz, a short talk by Christine Hibbert on a special hobby (the influence of art on photography) and a session of “Show and Tell” where members bring along information on a favourite painting, or artist or memorabilia. It gives us the opportunity to thank everyone for their contributions to such a successful interest group in 2012.
A trip to Southwell Minster is now being planned for 2013. This will pull together all the information we have received on Romanesque and Gothic architecture. There are also other trips in the pipeline looking at the Pre-Raphaelites and David Hockney.
Although we have lost a few more members over the past months we have also gained many more. In fact, regrettably, we now have had to start a waiting list as we have reached 60, the maximum number for the room.
Finally, we must pass on the group’s congratulations to Richard Eddlestone whose own paintings were part of an exhibition in Nottingham in October. Richard is a fine water-colourist – no wonder he can talk with confidence about the art of others.
September 2012 Newsletter
May, June and July’s meeting have, again, been well attended – what a cultured bunch of people we are at Beeston U3A. Back in May a talk was given on architecture rather than a painter. We looked at Norman/Romanesque buildings in Britain and their counterparts in Europe and the Middle East. One or two new buildings are now on our “to visit” list. Then in June, Christine Hibbert expertly took the group through two French Baroque painters: Fragonard and Watteau. I think everyone now knows and appreciates what a curlicue is. July was fun as we all duly turned up on one of the sunniest days of the somewhat disappointing summer and after some difficulty gaining access we commenced a slightly shortened programme. However that took nothing away from the quality as we had two fascinating and contrasting talks. Karin Williams led us charmingly through the art of Boucher with the grandeur of the court of Louis XV whilst Richard Eddlestone highlighted the enigmatic works of Friedrich. The latter created quite a stir in the group for his dour but evocative landscapes. We were due also to have a talk on Goya but, as the time had been shortened, that topic became the main artist at the August meeting.
On Friday September 7th we are going on a trip to Waddesdon Manor, Bucks. What a popular trip this is proving to be and we could have filled two coaches – although Waddesdon itself put the limit on the group number of forty. This will be reviewed under the next newsletter. All we hope is that the coach does not drop us off in Waddesdon village as none of us want to undertake a long walk as we did in London! A talk is also being arranged in October with Djanogly Art Gallery on Dame Laura Knight as a companion to their forthcoming exhibition starting in September. This will be offered to members of the Art History Group only as there will be a maximum of 25 people and it should be free.
Once again, my thanks go to everyone who helps to make this group such fun and so successful. We are now building up quite an experienced reserve of speakers who are showing themselves willing and more than able to speak to a group of attentive and appreciative art lovers. Again, we have lost a couple of members but have also gained others. The group is quite happy to accept new members as long as we do not break any health and safety rules for the Guild room.
June 2012 Newsletter
Since our last report we have experienced several excellent talks. We began with a session on two Spanish artists: El Greco and Velazquez. Then in February Pauline Lucas gave us an astonishing insight into the artist Poussin. In March we looked at Claude and at a general favourite, Canaletto. At our last meeting Elizabeth Le Marchant Brock opened our eyes to the art and the life of the “bad boy” Caravaggio – her enthusiasm was infectious. This was followed by a presentation on the sculpture of the Italian, Bernini. By the time the newsletter will have been printed we will have covered Romanesque architecture and Christine Hibbert will have taken us through the visual delights of Fragonard and Watteau.
On Tuesday May 1st a group of art enthusiasts trooped down to London to the National Gallery to see their main exhibition: Turner Inspired. It concentrated on many early Turner pieces and how he took inspiration from the Italian-based artist, Claude Lorrain. Personally, I went specifically to see the Turner paintings but was quite overwhelmed by the colour and light in the earlier Claude pieces and I think others in the party felt the same. However, one member of the group whilst studying the Turner paintings said: “Above all else, I now have a much better appreciation of how an artist can portray both landscape and light. One felt that the sun was just about to burst through from behind the clump of trees or burning its way through the clouds.” The trip was a great success apart from being dropped off and picked up twenty minutes’ walk away from the gallery. It was a miracle that we all saw the exhibition and returned to the coach without losing anyone –our thanks to Liz Brown who led the way through the streets. We were also lucky that the sun came out in London and we were not drenched on our walk.
There are several trips already planned for the future: a trip to Southwell Minster to look at both Norman and Gothic architecture, a walk around Nottingham city to see the work of Watson Fothergill, a trip to Birmingham to see the Pre-Raphaelites at the museum and now a visit to Waddesdon Manor in Buckinghamshire to see the NT property once the home of the Rothschilds.
Sadly, we have had to say goodbye to two of the members of our group who can no longer attend the meetings. However, the group continues to grow with new members joining nearly every month. The art history steering committee has looked again at the programme and we now feel that there is enough material to run on into 2014 and this new programme will be put to the group at the next meeting. We do rely on the goodwill of members to give the talks and, so far, six different people have volunteered. We would like to encourage more people to become actively involved- especially to talk about artists for whom they have a particular fondness. Several of us are more than willing to help out with the technical side of making a PowerPoint presentation to support the talk. Again, this will be part of the next meeting. Finally, my thanks to everyone who has given talks, put out chairs, collected money, recommended exhibitions or just been enthusiastic every month.
March 2012 Newsletter
Despite Christmas and the New Year, we have had several very active months since our last report and thanks go to several members of the group who were responsible for these activities.
Firstly, an excellent talk on Rubens and Rembrandt was given in November by Elizabeth Le Marchant Brock and Jane Wild who both stepped in at the last minute. This was extremely well received by everyone who attended.
Then, in December, a trip was arranged to visit Nottingham Contemporary Art Gallery with a lunch afterwards at a tapas bar. The art gallery was a revelation for some members who had never previously visited it and there was a great interest in what the space had to offer; including its small collection housed in some beautiful cabinets. We were taken around the existing exhibition where everyone found something which could amaze them; whether it was a miniature cyclone, or pictures made from bee excretion, or a human torso stuffed with fresh vegetables. Whatever we thought about it we were grateful to have it all explained to us. For those of us who stayed on for a meal afterwards it was a very jolly affair.
On the 10th January Christine Hibbert had arranged for a party to visit the Fitzwilliam Museum in Cambridge to see the Vermeer exhibition. (picture left) It was a wonderful day out without any hitches – brilliant organization thanks to Christine. The exhibition was packed but we had timed group tickets so that we did not have to queue for the two hours that others had to endure. The exhibition itself was delightful but the day also gave us time to visit the other remarkable galleries in the museum to see its beautiful collection of paintings and ancient artefacts.
January’s talk was the first one which dealt with Spanish artists; in particular El Greco and Velazquez given by leader Helen Stewart. Helen – centre in picture right – is photographed with members of the group after the talk. We have a full year’s programme ahead of us and details of this programme can be found on the U3A web site via the Art History page. Hopefully, we shall have a few more trips out during the year as well.
Helen, March 2012
December 2011 Newsletter
The group goes from strength to strength; so much so we have had to move our venue from Oban House to the Guild Room at Chilwell Road Methodist Church. We have also had to rearrange the time from the Tuesday morning to 1.30 – 3.30 on a Tuesday afternoon. This has, unfortunately, caused a few problems for one or two of our regular members and for that we apologise. However, it has also meant that others whose commitments previously clashed with the session can now rejoin. It will also mean that we shall be able to sit in comfort and not worry about safety regulations as we had to scrabble about under tables to reach the urn for coffee! Our thanks must go to Oban House though, as they did look after us for the sessions we had there – it was just unfortunate for them that the group outgrew the size of the available rooms. Our move does mean that brand new members to the U3A can still join us.
Our last talk was led by Christine Hibbert who took us through Dutch interior landscape paintings. It was a most interesting talk and Christine illustrated it with some beautiful images. Several paintings did have us all wondering what exactly was happening and caused much speculation. The talk in October is looked at the art of Turner and Constable and was followed in November by a talk on Rubens and Rembrandt. We now have a two-three year programme available to members, which can be viewed by clicking the link above and at the back of the December Newsletter. There are several gaps next to many painters and we are looking for volunteers to lead those sessions; although, rest assured, we will always make sure that someone will step in to ensure the meeting goes ahead.
On December 13th a trip is planned to visit Nottingham Contemporary Art Gallery where a talk from the curator has been arranged. Further details will be available at the next meeting.
Helen, December 2011.